What are the differences between dry yeast and fresh yeast? Aside from both having different names, think again. Because recipes can call for a specific type of yeast. Do you know why is that? Read on to find out.
What’s baking bread, cakes, pizzas, and others without using yeast? In fact, yeast is so prevalent in our day-to-day baking needs that there are different types of yeast too. From the queries we have received in our livestream sessions, we thought it would be great to explain the differences between dry yeast and fresh yeast. Not just what they are, but in what they are made of, how their properties differ and how to use those properties to your baking advantage.
It can be quite tricky to learn about yeast. Some days you think you actually understand how they work, but when you are baking, you can also get lost. Especially, when you flip the recipe book and notice a recipe calling for a specific type of yeast. It gets quite confusing too when you don’t have the said yeast in your pantry, or you do not know what that yeast is at all. Perhaps in this article, we can cover some of the characteristics and uses of dry yeast and fresh yeast to provide you a better understanding of them. This is something you can consider the next time you may your next yeast purchase.
An introduction to Yeast.
A prominent member of the fungus family, the yeast is a living organism that lives in the air that surrounds us. While there are thousands of varieties of yeast, we only use one type when we bake, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also called baker’s yeast or the “sugar eating” yeast.
Kind of like baking powder and baking soda that is used for the leavening of baked goods like breads and cakes, yeast has its own role in baking. While the baking powder and baking soda needs chemical reaction to produce carbon dioxide for the baked goods to rise, yeast does not cause a chemical reaction at all. As a matter of fact, the resulting cardon dioxide produced by the yeast is caused by the yeast eating the sugars and starches inside the dough, except at a much slower rate than you would expect when you use baking powder or baking soda.
Different Types of Yeast
Coming in two forms, namely Dry Yeast (also known as Dehydrated Granules) and Fresh Yeast (also known as Compressed Cakes), we shall have a closer at these two.
Mostly used by the pastry professionals, fresh yeast is soft and moist. And due to its highly perishable nature, it must be kept refrigerated or stored frozen. Very delicate like so, pastry chefs always proof fresh yeast before using it to prove its viability, it is a necessity. Meaning you have to make sure it is able to work. Otherwise, you won’t be getting anything to rise and bake in the oven.
Then we have the dry yeast. Dry yeast is actually fresh yeast that has been pressed and dried until its moisture content causes it to be dormant. To get it going, warm water is mixed to it. As compared to the fresh yeast, the dry yeast has a much longer shelf life and is not required to be refrigerated, until it is opened for use that is. Because once you have opened it, the surrounding atmosphere’s moisture, light, and heat are all factors that can cause it to deteriorate quickly when exposed to air. That is why it needs to be stored in the refrigerator once it is opened.
More Differences on the Dry Yeast and Fresh Yeast.
When a recipe calls for a specific type of yeast, there are four main distinctions to be made to help you understand better. Dry yeast (both active dry yeast and instant yeast) and fresh yeast’s differences can be categorized in their:
Dried yeast (both active dry yeast and instant yeast) are quite rough to the touch. They also look and feel like sand in your hands. Meanwhile, fresh compressed yeast will feel moist to your touch. It also has a crumbly consistency similar to a block of feta cheese, in fact it looks very inviting to touch with your hands.
What’s interesting to know that a quarter of yeast cells are killed in the drying process to produce active dry yeast. Those dead yeast cells will then form a protective coating around the living cells. This slows down the rate of fermentation and produces a noticeably yeast-like flavor into the dough. As such, it takes longer for the yeast to rise. On the other hand, fresh yeast contains more living yeast cells in them, that’s why the amount of carbon dioxide released is more than the dry yeast. This causes the yeast to rise bigger and a faster rate.
As mentioned before, fresh yeast is highly perishable, therefore it does not have a long shelf life requiring its users to be use it within a week or two. Both instant and active dry yeast naturally have a longer shelf life than the fresh yeast, and they can be used for several months when stored properly at room temperature. Because instant yeast contains the lowest moisture content out of all, it has the longest shelf life and something you can consider if you are planning to use yeast for a long-term.
Understanding the Activation of Yeast.
Do you find yourself questioning why do some recipes require you to dissolve the yeast in a warm liquid prior to adding active yeast mixture? Hey, some recipes even call for the yeast to be added into the flour first before adding the liquid. Do you know why?
When you dissolve the yeast first in a warm liquid, you are doing so in making sure that the yeast you are using is fresh, and therefore active. Because yeast itself is a breathing organism, there is a possibility of those organisms perishing. Without those organisms, there will be no leavening in your yeast. However, it is nice to note that this step is not really done any longer thanks to the reliability of dry yeast available in the market today. However, for safety’s sake, most bakers still make it a good practice to test the yeast before adding it to flour, ensuring that the yeast is still working.
What to consider when you are shopping for Yeast.
Shopping for the specific type of yeast you want can be daunting as you get either the same or not the same names for the yeast products produced by varying manufacturers. In order to lessen your concerns, here is a simple guide to help you for your next yeast purchase in the store. Look out for some popular labels and production instructions on the packaging like so:
- Instant – This type of yeast contains small amount of yeast enhancer; you do not need to dissolve it in water.
- Rapid-Rise – This type of yeast contains a larger amount of yeast enhancers and other packaging changes to the granules; you do not need to dissolve it in water.
- Active Dry – This is a traditional dry yeast, and you must dissolve it, usually with sugar.
- Cake (Moist) – This is a traditional live yeast that requires you to mix it in water.
And if you are looking for fresh yeast? Well, you should be able to find those at selected delicatessens and specialty food stores and needs to be kept in the fridge where it will last for about up to two weeks. Want an amazing bread recipe? Check out this Danish Loaf with Kaya, a recipe all made possible in a collaboration with Adrian Heat Asia.
Noting the Differences.
The difference between dry yeast and fresh yeast may seem like a small matter. Yet, a minor change in the makeup of flour can make a big difference in the outcome of your recipes. We hope this article has been helpful for you, dear reader. Should you like to know more about other types of comparisons, we have other interesting reads for you that focuses on the differences between:
Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour — Some might say all-purpose flour is all that you need for baking as its name suggests. But is that always the case? Why else then would we have bread flour? Time to learn the differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour and when do you use them here.
Ice Cream and Gelato — When the sun hits and the heat get too unbearable, having a cool dessert is paradise. You will find yourself wanting to sink your teeth in ice cream or gelato. And no, those two aren’t the same. Vastly different, read this so you can tell the differences between ice cream and gelato.
Sponge Cake and Chiffon Cake — The world of cakes comes in all sorts of shapes, forms, and tastes. Yet sometimes bakers find themselves questioning the difference between a common sponge cake and chiffon cake. Not everyone knows what that means or even, what the difference is. It’s easier for anyone to call them cakes. So, we sort things out in this article.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder — There’s a lot of science involved in baking. So, we will tell you the difference between baking soda and baking powder, to help you understand how they work and affect your baking. Be a better baker by learning this interesting baking tip.
Gelatin and Agar — The differences between gelatin and agar can be quite vague—maybe confusing for some. While both gelatin and agar are key ingredients in preparing desserts, we examine the distinctiveness of their source closer in this article.
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